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Stormy Night


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Bologna Ragazzi Award.

About the Author

Michele Lemieux is an internationally recognised illustrator working in Montreal, Canada. Head of the illustration section of the graphic arts program at Universite de Quebec a Montreal, she has illustrated and published numerous books in Germany, France, Canada and the USA. Stormy Night was first published in Germany in 1996, and is now available in nine languages. It has won many awards, including the prestigious Bologna Ragazzi Award.


Gr 4-8-While this unusually long picture book (240 pages) provides no answers to the many queries posed by a young girl who can't sleep because "Too many questions are buzzing through my head," readers may find solace in knowing that they are not the only ones who struggle with these issues. There is no story here; it's simply a catalog of questions and fears ranging from typical concerns about appearance to fears of abandonment, war, and robbers; to universal enigmas such as "Will the world come to an end someday?" "Are things better after death than in life?" "And hell-does it really exist?" The black-and-white line drawings are appropriately small and surrounded by ample white space, reflecting the young person's feelings of inadequacy in the face of such vast mysteries. They reveal her restlessness as she hides under the covers or under the bed, curls up on the rug, and seeks the comfort of her dog. Often the drawings are as provocative as the questions they depict. Opposite the query, "Will I have children someday?" is a pregnant woman next to a man inside a watering can with its spout looking for all the world like a penis scattering sperm. Dark double-page spreads illustrating the stormy night of the title punctuate the text and mirror the storm raging in the young girl's mind. This inventory of mind-bending mysteries may provide an outlet for adolescents unable to formulate their concerns and could serve as a jumping-off point for discussions at home or in the classroom.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community-Technical College, CT Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"Thank you very much for the enchanting and wonderful book Stormy Night. There were truly amazing questions which, funnily, I ask to myself very often. I enjoyed Stormy Nightso much that I know I will read it over and over again. My favourite question was "What happens when you die?" I will look for many more books by this wonderful Author ..."- Jack Norman-Pottinger (aged eleven and a half)

Lightning bolts and existential dilemmas keep a girl awake in this unusual volume, which resembles a compact, thick sketchbook filled with line drawings. The tidy, surreal imagery is strictly black-on-white and recalls the likes of Dali and De Chirico as often as the looser, more accessible line of de Saint-Exup‚ry. Brief sentences ("Is there only one of me in the world?") accompany minimalist pictures of the speaker sitting in bed or exchanging concerned glances with her dog, providing launching points for a series of thematic questions ("Sometimes I feel like I don't fit in my body!/ Imagine if we could switch bodies..."). Figures from the girl's imagination convey uncertainty laced with dry humor. A face appears in the center of a labyrinth alongside a plaintive "Sometimes I feel completely lost!" Wordless spreads dramatize the silences between epiphanies. Sometimes, extravagantly blank white pages bring the shock of utter emptiness, while contrasting ink-wash spreads show the girl's small house in a rainy landscape of gray hills and wind-lashed poplar trees. The storm and the anxieties last all night ("Will I know when it's time to die? Will it hurt?"), but with sunrise comes optimism. Lemieux's (What's That Noise?) evocative images and statements work singly, but together they bear cumulative weight and offer reassurance that such questions are universal. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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